November 19, 2013 7 Comments
I am a skeptic of carsharing. I have used Zipcar in the past, but stopped due its inconvenience and cost.
I reserved a car 2 blocks away from my house using the website (I could have used the app). I got to the car in my appointed window, it was where it was supposed to be. I tapped in (this took a few seconds to find the place to tap in, which is on the front window … this was not immediately obvious due to frost and it being the first time). The car unlocked for me after a few seconds. I got in the car. I could not see out of the car due to frost. Fortunately there was an ice scraper in the back. So I paid $0.38 for a minute of ice scraping. The car was so small the scraping was fast though. Put the key in the ignition and started it.
Update: There is a short grace period before billing begins, so I might not actually have been charged for the privilege of ice scraping.
Some things you notice.
This is a small car, it has a tight turning radius. I could turn the car around on the street so it would point in the right direction without having to do any reverse maneuvers or touching the curb.
This is a new car, so the brake pedal is stiff. So I still need to calibrate force on the brake pedal (and the gas) to get a non-jerky amount of deceleration or acceleration.
The previous driver was short.
The GPS in the car tells me where I am, though I did not test directions.
The user interface is straight-forward, however checking out is not as simple as it seems.
The car gives you the feel of the road. (When I told Honda Dealer once that a test ride was bumpy , they said Honda designs their cars that way because of Honda’s “racing heritage”, so I will chalk it up to Smart’s racing heritage.) On Franklin Avenue SE, this is not a good thing.
Update: Car2Go says there is a “manual” mode for the transmission which would produce a less jerky ride, so that it is an automatic manual mode. I will have to try this to see how it works. I was not aware of it the first time.
At the end of the trip, I found an on-street parking location, turned off the ignition, checked out, followed the procedure I thought, and left the car there.
Two hours after I thought my trip ended, I got a text message. (They did send it shortly after my trip, but I am not a text message person, and it didn’t vibrate my phone.)
“Your trip could not be ended. Please return to the vehicle and swipe your card against the card reader to complete the trip.”
Sadly I did not get this until I am very far from the car. I hope they figure it out, clearly they did know that I was not in the car and had ended my trip, otherwise they would not have sent the message, so it seems redundant to tell me that my trip could not be ended if they know it ended.
If they bill me for this, it is going to be a very bad review. Their tagline “Simply park and we will take care of the rest” is a bit misleading.
So once I got the message, I called their number from the website, and they shut it down remotely. The text message did not give me this number, and they have not replied to my text reply. Via the phone representative, they shut down the rental (2.5 hours after the trip ended), and wound the clock back 20 minutes, which is the maximum they can do, so they say, with a request to the local office to credit more time. They are supposed to follow-up with me.
As of two hours later, this has not happened. The bill, as it stands, is somewhat higher than a comparable transit trip. Note to Car2Go. I will amend this if it is deducted from bill at some later time.
After tweeting to @car2goMPLS, they called me and fixed the bill and were quite helpful. Unfortunately the message did not get passed down from HQ to the local office as had been suggested. So all is well that ends well, but if were not a Twitterer, I probably would be less happy right now.